Have you ever donated your money or time to a political candidate? In the United States and other Western democracies, this is an ordinary custom for many citizens. But according to the Kyiv Post, in Ukraine, people “are used to receiving buckwheat and butter or other trivial bribes from candidates in exchange for their votes.” Therefore the notion that citizens can and should play a part in political campaigns, without the expectation of bribery, is a revolutionary idea.
Ukrainian candidates are beginning to use various channels such as blogs and social networks to elicit financial contributions. This is a significant change from the norm, in which wealthy party members are primarily responsible for financing the campaigns.
The head of the Democratic Alliance, Vasyl Gatsko, was quoted in the Kyiv Post, saying, “Ukrainians are not inclined to donate money to any cause. There is no culture yet of giving to charity, civic organizations, let alone political parties.”
The growing trend of grassroots fundraising can be partially attributed to the expansion of social media activity across the world. With increasing regulations regarding transparency from organizations, businesses and political parties, social networks provide the platform politicians need to remain accountable to their constituents. In return, those voters have the responsibility of becoming thoroughly informed about the issues related to their communities and personal lives.
Ukrainian citizens are even starting to volunteer their time working on campaigns (without being bribed) for candidates they support and want to see elected. Ukraine may still have a long way to go before firmly securing the public’s trust in regards to elections, but then, so do many Western nations.
What are your thoughts on political candidates using social networks to elicit donations? What would you like to see change in the United States regarding financial contributions to campaigns?